Ms. Khan often visits schools to introduce children to her stories. She has found that the “kids are very receptive to the messages and to the topics [she brings] up,” asking many questions and engaging in the experience, even if it’s not quite their experience. While Ms. Khan delights in teaching children about other cultures and languages, she finds it especially gratifying to see students represented in her stories: “It’s also really rewarding to see… a bunch of kids point to the little boy who’s squirming in his seat because he has a name that I mentioned in one of my books, or he celebrates that holiday too.”
Representation in books and in curricula is substantial to a child’s educational experience, as children are more engaged if they can relate to the subject matter. As Ms. Khan has realized, “[the students] feel confident when I’m there, to share and to speak up;” that is, these students, often starved for representation, now have the opportunity to engage with the material and can engage with confidence because they know that Ms. Khan is Pakistani-American too.
Ms. Khan relays her experience with the school staff: “I’ve had fantastic conversations with educators after I’ve visited schools and people come up to me and tell me how important they think it was that I was there, how it made them think of things in a different way, or how they wanted to continue the conversation with the kids.” As educators in TWIN-CS, we understand the importance of representation in curricula and the significance of representation in staff, and hope to see more writers such as Hena Khan!
Continue to follow the blog for more!
-Melissa Hoppie, Graduate Student Researcher